Saturday, 14 February 2015


Ken Berwitz

In case you think Scott Walker is the only one...

Bruce Rauner, the newly elected Governor of Illinois - arguably the single most corrupt, waste-ridden state of them all - has decided to take on the state's "pay union dues even if you don't want to be in the union" scam.

According to Monica Davey's and Mitch Smith's article in today's New York Times, Governor Rauner has issued an executive order barring unions from requiring all state workers to pay the equivalent of dues, even if they are not in the union.

His reasoning? 

"Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers.  An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights - and something that, as governor, I am duty bound to correct."

Is Rauner right?  In my opinion he could not be more so.  By what logic, by what legal reasoning, should people who, for whatever their reasons, do not want to be in a union, have to pay dues to that union anyway?

And it's not like the Governor is springing a surprise on Illinois citizens.  He made no secret of his position during the campaign.  They knew who and what he was when they elected him, and that is what they are getting. 

Are they happy about it?  I suppose most are - again, since this is the guy they just elected.  Will they be happy about it in the future?  Only time will tell.

But, for now? Bruce Rauner is making good on part of what the voters of Illinois elected him to do.  Which means that the unions will just have to get by with money supplied by people who actually want to be part of those unions.

What's wrong with that?


Ken Berwitz

If you were a Democrat would you be fearful of Scott Walker as a 2016 presidential candidate?

Let me ask that a different way:  If you were a Democrat, would you be fearful of Republicans running a candidate young enough to be Hillary Clinton's son, who has run in, and won, 11 elections already, including three for Mayor of a Democrat-majority city and three for Governor of a Democrat-majority state?

Since both questions reference Scott Walker, I'm assuming you agree with me that the answer is yes.  Democrats are - or at least should be - scared witless of Walker (don't you love rhymes?).

That, I assume, is why, just this week, we had the Washington Post do a ludicrous hit piece on Walker attacking him for not finishing college a quarter century ago, former Democrat presidential contender and DNC chair Howard Dean attacking him for being "unknowledgeable" due to his lack of that college degree (I guess he thought Harry Truman, who never spent a day in college, was a complete dunce)....

...and now we have an attack by Gail Collins of the New York Times, on Mr. Walker's position on public education (among a number of other things).  Here are a few excerpts (but please use the link I've provided and read it you can get the full complement of sneering, sarcasm Ms. Collins sends Walker's way):

Mainly, though, The Speech (to Republicans in Iowa) was about waging war on public employee unions, particularly the ones for teachers. "In 2010, there was a young woman named Megan Sampson who was honored as the outstanding teacher of the year in my state. And not long after she got that distinction, she was laid off by her school district," said Walker, lacing into teacher contracts that require layoffs be done by seniority.

Actually, Wisconsin names four teachers of the year, none of which has ever been Megan Sampson, who won an award for first-year English teachers given by a nonprofit group.

When it comes to education, Walker seems prone toward this sort of intellectual hiccup. Just recently, he released a proposed budget that would have changed the University of Wisconsin's mission statement by eliminating the bits about "the search for truth," educating people and serving society, in favor of the educational goal of meeting "the state's work force needs." When all hell broke loose, Walker blamed that one on a drafting error.

That budget also contains another interesting education idea that Walker has yet to blame on inept typists. He wants to change the way teachers are licensed. Basically, the plan would be to let people with "real-life experience" just take a test to demonstrate that they knew their subject matter. It appears to require no training whatsoever in the actual art of teaching.

The idea could very well become law, whether the educators like it or not, since the Wisconsin Legislature often makes policy changes as part of the budget. We will have to let Wisconsinites worry about that.

Is the reliably leftward/Democrat-friendly Ms. Collins fearful of Scott Walker?  You might as well ask if Tweety was fearful of Sylvester (young readers may have to ask mom or dad what that means, but I'm sure context gives them a pretty good idea).

Let's go through a few of these horrific actions by Walker:

-Walker said Ms. Sampson was honored as the outstanding teacher of the year.  Yes, he should have said as "an" outstanding teacher of the year instead.  Big deal.  The point he was making is that she was laid off, not for the quality of her teaching but because, in Wisconsin, the longer you teach - even if you are not very good at it - the less likely you are to be laid off.  

Is the idea that teachers should be kept or laid off based on their teaching capabilities rather than their longevity, a problem to you?  It certainly is to the Teachers Union and it certainly is to Gail Collins.  But I have to say that it's just fine with me.

-Mr. Walker says that the elimination of searching for truth, educating people and serving society were not intentionally taken out of the mission statement, it was an inadvertent drafting error.  No one can know for sure if that is true, but since I cannot think of a reason why Walker would eliminate those things - they certainly do not clash with his conservative views - I assume he is telling the truth.  

-Walker wants people to become accredited teachers based not just on academic learning but on life experiences.  What in the world is wrong with that?   If Bill Gates or(the late) Steve Jobs offered to teach Wisconsin students a course on computer science, would Gail Collins insist they be turned down on the grounds that - like Walker - neither has a college degree?  Evidently, the answer is yes.

Let me end by re-asking the question I asked earlier:  if you were a Democrat would you be fearful of Scott Walker as a 2016 presidential candidate?

Would it be fair to say that The Washington Post, Howard Dean, and now The New York Times' Gail Collins, have given us an answer?


UPDATE:  With a major tip of my imaginary hat to John Hinderaker at, and apologies for not having realized it myself...

...Gail Collins' attack on Governor Walker for citing Megan Sampson as a 2010 "outstanding teacher of the year" who was laid off shortly thereafter, also blames Walker for the layoff itself.  Her exact words (not in the excerpts I showed above):  "those layoffs happened because Walker cut state aid to education."

The problem?  Scott Walker wasn't the Governor when it happened and his cuts had nothing to do with her layoff.  Walker became Governor in 2011. 

Waiting for a retraction from Ms. Collins?  Me too.

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